Dessie Farrell has the look of someone who is getting tired of these one-man shows and their repetitive scripts. What's wrong with the team? They're not beating up opponents like they used to as opposed to the recently more popular, what are you doing to the Leinster championship?
When will all those injuries in defence clear up – oh and, any word on ….?
The great existential drama “waiting for Clucko”?
“No, no development. It’s still as was. As I said at the time, ultimately the decision for what happens next rests with Stephen.”
He did, however, say that the door had not been closed on Kevin McManamon, who’s off to the Olympics as part of the boxers’ back-room team.
“Yeah Kevin is, yeah, and that’s the nature with work commitments. These are amateur players at the end of the day and they’re not contracted to play for their county. Work and career is really, really important.”
In truth there were more alarming elements to Sunday's Leinster semi-final. It started so reassuringly – a blistering second-quarter to leave Meath labouring in their 11-point wake. That sort of performance is meant to put teams away. On this occasion it didn't.
Ultimately the crowd of 12,500 – well short of the 18,000 permitted for the semi-finals double bill – were treated to an unusual Leinster championship match, one in which Dublin looked vaguely like they might not survive until they pulled out of the tailspin with three injury-time points for a slightly flattering six-point win.
“I’d say more disappointed that, you know, we set a standard for ourselves and that second-half performance fell short of that. I think overall a sense of disappointment with how we performed, and it’s easy to be sort of negative around that but the irony of it is, if we gave the first-half performance in the second half, and vice versa, we’d be in a happier place at the end of the game.”
Meath manager Andy McEntee was caught between the second-half improvement, which spared him the sort of result that had left him nearly speechless after the last meeting with Dublin eight months ago and the realisation that they could maybe have won it.
“The second half was fantastic and the effort but why give a team like Dublin an 11-point lead? You’re not giving yourself much of a chance but the commitment was huge, the execution was good, and skill level was good. We just left ourselves with a bit much to do.”
He reflected on the disappointment of not being able to carry the momentum of the result into a qualifier campaign.
“I’m not exactly known for my patience. Look at last year. We didn’t really perform at all at any stage. The lads put in a hell of a second half there on a bloody hot day. It wasn’t just us. Dublin were struggling too. It was a pretty physical, pretty fast, hot game.
“Yeah, progress has been made. We just didn’t get enough games this year. It’s about games. That’s the thing with Dublin the past couple of years. They get more games and it’s layer-upon-layer, and if you’re not playing as many games as they are it’s hard to close that gap.”
Dublin move forward to play Kildare in the Leinster final, and Farrell was asked if his entire injured half-back line of Eoin Murchan, John Small and Robbie McDaid might be available.
“We’re obviously keeping that under constant observation. We’ve had a couple of injuries and the lads are all adhering to their return-to-play protocol so we’ll be watching that very closely.”